The Power of the Crowd


“We don’t have a choice on whether DO social media; the question is how WELL we do it.”

Erik Qualman


Digital marketing and social media thrive on the conversations, needs, wants, and dreams of the crowd. Whether it’s through the sharing of images, video, written word, or even shared labor and funding, the human experience has gone viral. As I mentioned in my last post, social media as a disruptive technology has re-created the way individuals and businesses use the internet. Today, the buzzword is “engagement,” not just “communication.” The following video encapsulates a little about how disruptive this technology has been:




As web-based and mobile technologies turn communication into interactive dialogue and engagement, new disruptive technologies are begging to be born.


Enter: The Power of the Crowd.


This week I completed a research project about the disruptive potential of Kickstarter, an online crowd-fundraising platform which targets artists and entrepreneurs who need funds to bring their creative projects to life. The only way that these artists and entrepreneurs build awareness about their ideas and projects is by tapping into the power of the crowd. Leveraging the ubiquity of social network platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and various other digital media tools to broadcast their creative ideas found on Kickstarter, these individuals attract other like-minded individuals (i.e.: total strangers) to build awareness and interest in backing their projects.  In essence, Kickstarter is truly a representation of market demand; by taking a funding request straight to the people, if no one donates money to a project, the project does not get funded. As simple as that.


The disruptive potential of utilizing the power of the crowd is remarkably simple, yet mind-blowingly powerful. While it’s not quite the Hollywood pipe dream of “If you build it, they will come,” Crowdfunding (as the movement is called) requires effective communication between creators and customers and extends the engagement of social media with philanthropists; indeed “group conversation drives repeat visits.” The catch is that, now, everyone online can fund a piece of someone else’s vision – all while the original creator retains 100% of his or her intellectual property and ownership rights.


Of course, others criticize social media and crowdfunding, labeling them as fads or trends. What is more, other critics believe that social media is simply “digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated”. While project owners on Kickstarter do need to be fairly vocal and shout through a mass of clutter across multiple social networks, those that do receive funding, and go on to produce the work that they set out to produce, set the example for the power of the crowd. Is this the new norm of the American dream?

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